Join us for a dive into the complicated touring rig of the only artist to win Grammy Awards in 10 different categories.
Jazz guitar god Pat Metheny recently played Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on his solo tour supporting his latest record, Dream Box. Ahead of the show, PG’s John Bohlinger met with Metheny’s tech Andre Cholmondeley, who pulled back the curtain on what just might be the most complex solo rig ever devised. Afterward, Cholmondeley painstakingly wrote out Metheny’s signal path to help clarify the rig. Buckle up, and keep up if you can.
Brought to you by D'Addario.
A longtime Gibson ES-175 player, Metheny struck up a friendship with Ibanez in the 1970s when he toured Japan. In 1996, they released their first Ibanez PM100 Pat Metheny Signature. This PM100 bears a .080-gauge flatwound string tuned an octave down to a low low E. The rest are Metheny’s normal D’Addario NYXL 10s.
The axe puts out with a lone Charlie Christian single coil pickup plus a microphone inside the guitar running to a separate output. On some occasions, the Christian pumps out more noise or hum depending on the venue's electricity, or even if there’s wifi present. When necessary, Metheny and his team use an EHX Hum Debugger, or an Ebtech Hum Eliminator.
The Axon Axe
This Ibanez PM120—dubbed the "Axon Guitar"—lives on a stand so Metheny can play it with a second guitar on his back as needed as a MIDI controller. It’s got a Roland GK-style pickup with 13-pin output, connected to a 2007 AXON AX 50 synth controller, which drives the Orchestrion percussion instruments via Ableton. Pat can also send MIDI into any soft synth, and create loops inside Ableton, or any attached hardware besides the Orchestrion. (The Ableton 11 software runs on a MacBook Pro and through the show, it’s fed audio from three different guitars.)
Meanwhile, the normal audio output of this guitar hits an IK Multimedia TONEX, then a DI to the house and monitor systems.
Rockin' and Roland
The Roland GR-300 synth and G-303 guitar synth controller have been part of Metheny’s music since the combo was invented in 1980. The GR-300 is built around an analog polyphonic synth with oscillators that must be tuned daily.
The G-303 is strung with D’Addario NYXLs (.010-.046).
Each of Metheny’s acoustic guitars has two outputs: one from a standard 1/4" internal bridge pickup, and one from a condenser microphone mounted inside the guitars with a gooseneck or rigid metal arm. Metheny uses a variety of pickups, including Fishman, Go Acoustic Audio, LR Baggs, and the gut mics include offerings from Applied Microphone Technology and DPA Microphones.
All acoustics are treated to unique mix, EQ, and effects and monitored through a pair of Meyer UM-1P and Bose L1 speakers, plus a custom “thumper” in the Yamaha DSM100 mesh drum throne that Metheny sits on during performance.
Metheny’s 8-string Taylor acoustic takes various tuning. Sometimes, it acts as a baritone with a unison in the middle. Other times, it’s tuned to F-C-D#-E-C#-A#-A#-A. Surprise, surprise: Metheny is always experimenting.
In 1984, Metheny asked Canadian luthier Linda Manzer to build an instrument with “as many strings as possible.” The resulting collaboration is the Pikasso 42-String Guitar. While fitted for internal mic as well as a hex pickup, it currently only takes the regular 1/4" output, which is an aggregate of all four neck/zone pickups. Each pickup can be switched in and out with a toggle switch, and there are independent volume pots for each neck, as well as EQ and a master volume. The volume module is powered by two 9V batteries.
Here’s a closer look at the different angles within the Pikasso’s silhouette.
Keeping Up With Kemper
Various guitars run through a Kemper Profiler Power Rack. Each has a unique patch, but most usually use the models of a Fender Twin or a Roland JC-120, complete with verb, delay, and varying gain stages.
Here’s where things get tricky. Metheny runs a silent plug 1/4" cable from his guitars into a Lehle 3 at 1, enabling three stereo inputs—A, B, or C—which can be chosen with silent footswitches or via midi. A is designated for the Ibanez guitars, B takes the Roland setup, and C is home for the Taylor 8-string.
The outputs of all three are sent to a Gamechanger Audio Plus Pedal. (The effects-send out of the Plus feeds a mini Leslie amp set to slow spin.) The Plus’ mono out feeds the “alternative input” of the Kemper. The Kemper sends a number of outs: the XLR heads to a pair of Yamaha DXR-10 speakers; the 1/4" goes to a Radial stereo DI, then on to the house and monitor systems; and the Kemper’s own monitor out feeds an AUDAC EPA152 rackmount power amp. This last route is programmed with a slightly different, “less wet” FX mix than its companions. The AUDAC unit is set to run as two discrete amps, and sends audio to Metheny’s drum throne thumper and a classic Acoustic 4x10 cabinet.
For the baritone acoustic which Metheny currently loops in this show, the looper of choice is a Pigtronix Infinity 3 (lower right). It’s fed from the thru/send of the Radial DI for the acoustic. A mono loop send from the Infinity goes to front of house and monitors via a Countryman active DI, and Metheny keeps track of the acoustic loop in his Meyer and Bose monitors. The rest of Metheny’s colors and signal manipulation comes from these tone tools including a Source Audio Soleman MIDI Foot Controller, a pair Blackstar Live Logic 6-button MIDI Footcontrollers, an Electro-Harmonix 95000 Stereo Looper, Gamechanger Audio Plus Pedal, and the aforementioned Roland GR-300.
Accompanying the Maestro
Here’s the percussion mechanisms backing up Metheny during his solo Dream Box tour.
Shop Pat Metheny's Rig
Ibanez PM 200
D’Addario NYXL 10s
EHX Hum Debugger
IK Multimedia TONEX Pedal Amplifier/Cabinet/Pedal Modeler
Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI
LR Baggs M1 Active Acoustic Guitar Soundhole Humbucker Pickup
Bose L1 Pro32 Portable PA System
Guild D-40 Traditional Acoustic Guitar
Kemper Profiler Power Rack
Lehle 3at1 SGoS Instrument Switcher
Gamechanger Audio Plus Pedal Piano-style Sustain Effect Pedal
Electro-Harmonix 95000 Performance Loop Laboratory 6-track Looper
Radial ProD2 2-channel Passive Instrument Direct Box
Pigtronix Infinity 3 Looper Pedal
Source Audio Soleman MIDI Controller Pedal
Blackstar Live Logic 6-button MIDI Footcontroller
See how these thrash revivalists keep it simple and savage.
Thrash metal has seen a resurgence since its ’80s heyday. Megadeth earned a Grammy for their 2016 album Dystopia, and very recently Stranger Things’ brave headbanger Eddie Munson brandished a B.C. Rich Warlock for a literally death-defying performance of Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” that catapulted the song into widespread pop-culture consciousness. But for metal purists, Municipal Waste and their cofounding guitarist Ryan Waste, plus their track record of seven mosh-motivating albums over the past 21 years, prove the genre’s brand of battle-axe riffery wasn’t a fad. Sure, the band’s sound has diversified the artform with the subtle incorporation of hardcore breakdowns and punk-rock-like choruses—but everything is still in fifth-gear, baby!
Ahead of their headlining show at Nashville’s Basement East on August 10, PG’s Perry Bean jumped onstage to talk gear. Guitarists Waste and Nick “Nikropolis” Poulos prove they can travel light but stay lethal with a few riff-makers, gassed-up Marshalls, and some green and yellow Japanese drives.
Brought to you by D’Addario Nexxus 360 Tuner.
The Flying M
Ryan Waste is a left-handed shredder and has been plagued his entire career with the limited availability of southpaw speed machines—especially in traditional “metal” models. (He states in the Rundown that Municipal Waste’s early work was recorded on a Strat.) So, what’s the best workaround? Collaborate with a company to build your signature model.
This MW-AX from RIP Custom Guitars is the fifth iteration of his sig. Specs include a mahogany body, a mahogany set neck with a C-shape profile that’s paired with an ebony fretboard that has a 12"-16" compound-radius and 24 Dunlop 6100 jumbo frets. It has a roomier 25.5" scale length, the band’s logo sits at the 12th fret, there are Gotoh tuners up top, a Kahler 2300 Tremolo that unlocks dive bombs, a MEC kill switch for muting, and it screams thanks to a Seymour Duncan JB Trembucker. There’s no volume or tone knobs because, as Waste puts it in the Rundown: “It’s all or nothing, man. That’s me.”
Tower of Terror
“It’s over the top,” admits Waste. “We keep it OTT [laughs].” This slice-n-dice 6-string stays laced up with Ernie Ball Slinkys (.10–.46) and the band exclusively plays in standard tuning. It leans against Waste’s altar of tone. The cabs with the band’s logo are empty and light up, but the other Marshall 4x12s are loaded with Celestion Vintage 30s. Scroll down to learn about the JCM800.
A Marshall with More
Waste has plugged into plenty of heads throughout his career, but he’s never felt more at home than when this 100W 1986 Marshall JCM800 2203 is roaring behind him. The classic head has been supercharged with the V2 preamp socket mod (with the bass setting), giving the 800 a lot more gas and gain.
Green Means Go
Ryan doesn’t waste time with an actual board. As you can see, he’s got an Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer (that’s always on) and a Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner—keeping it simple and savage.
A Shred Plank
“These guitars are great for this kind of music,” states Municipal Waste lead stringer Nick Poulos. “They’re shred planks.” Poulos pieced this custom ride together using the base ingredients of an Ibanez RG model, upgraded with DiMarzio pickups and Ibanez’s Edge Zero II tremolo. He rocks Ernie Ball Slinkys (.10–.046) just like Waste.
Poulos plugs into this 50W 1988 Marshall JCM800 2205 dual-channel head with master controls for presence, volume, and reverb.
Stacks Are Back!
And here’s an impressive look at Poulos powerful riff station, showcasing a similar setup to Waste’s—with two cabs ready to sting and the other two ready to bling.
Nick Poulos’ Pedalboard
Poulos is Municipal Waste’s “pedal guy,” having a proper board and three stompboxes. He runs his guitar into a Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner before it hits an Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer for rhythm tones, and a Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive gets engaged for solos.
Thrash-metal icon Dave Mustaine details his signature Gibson Vs and why it’s the best body shape. Plus, Brazilian shredder Kiko Loureiro dishes on his signature Ibanez speed demons.
Grammy-winning metal legends Megadeth and their massive headlining 2022 run hit Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on May 5. Before the headbanging started, PG’s Chris Kies talked gear with Megadeth leader Dave Mustaine, who ran down the specs of his signature Gibson Flying V and showed us why it’s the best body shape for ripping onstage. The band’s dangerously dexterous lead guitarist Kiko Loureiro showed off his stash of dashing Ibanez doublecuts. And both players (plus their techs) share insight on downsizing from an Axe-Fx to a gig-bag-friendly Neural DSP Quad Cortex.
Brought to you by D’Addario XPND Pedalboard.
The Silver Bullet
Dave Mustaine has collaborated with several brands for signature models (Jackson, ESP, and Dean) that have all revolved around the V-body shape. In 2021, it was announced Mustaine was forming an alliance with Gibson. The partnership makes absolute sense given Gibson first released the (still) futuristic V and Explorer in 1958. (Astute Gibson historians may point to the Moderne as part of that legendary year, but it was supposedly prototyped in 1957 and never officially released until the early ’80s. The pattern mirrors the release of this year’s Gibson Theodore model.)
The sterling Dave Mustaine Flying V EXP (seen here in silver metallic) has some slight tweaks to the original recipe. It has a 25.5" scale length with 24 medium jumbo frets, mother-of-pearl teeth inlays, a 6-in-line Explorer headstock with Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners and kidney buttons, a Graph Tech nut, and a set of Mustaine’s signature Seymour Duncan Thrash Factor humbuckers. Another change includes moving the output jack onto the inside of the top wing. The V’s tonewoods consist of a mahogany body, mahogany neck, and rosewood fretboard. Mustaine mentions in the Rundown he worked considerably with Gibson to refine the baseball-bat neck for something with a slim taper grip and ergonomic flow.
All of Mustaine’s guitars take Cleartone strings—custom sets (.011–.054) for D-standard, Cleartone Dave Mustaine Heavy Series (.010–.052) for standard, and, no matter what, he’s shredding on Cleartone .73 mm picks.
Here’s the second option for Mustaine’s production signature V that’s identical to the previous except that it’s finished in an antique natural.
Being Dave Mustaine probably opens a lot of doors, and one such invitation is working with Gibson’s Nashville-based Custom Shop. Here’s a regal V (decked out with his sig specs) that features a flame maple cap and tasty binding. Note the bridge: Dave’s prototype instrument has through-body string loading. Expect to hear more about this model shortly.
Skin o’ My Teeth
Vic Rattlehead, Welcome to Smashville
The Explorer headstock (also outfitted on Mustaine’s Vs) could be used in a pinch by the hockey heavies on the Nashville Predators.
The last of Mustaine’s Vs is another Custom Shop offering that is both classy and cool.
Brazilian flamethrowing guitarist Kiko Loureiro officially joined Megadeth in April 2015. The first album he contributed to was 2016’s Dystopia, which earned Megadeth its only Grammy. An impressive start!
Providing a lot of nightly fireworks is Kiko’s trove of signature Ibanez racers. First up is the 2018 Ibanez KIKO200 GMT Kiko Loureiro model that has an African mahogany body (RG style) with a AAAA quilted maple top, wenge-maple neck, 24 jumbo frets (with scalloped frets in 19-24) on a Macassar ebony board, and an Ibanez Edge tremolo. Originally these models came with custom-voiced Ibanez KIKO pickups, but he’s now working with DiMarzio for his signature H-S-H configuration. All Loureiro’s electrics take D’Addario NYXLs—either .010–.046 for standard or .010–.052 for D-standard—and he attacks the strings with D’Addario heavy picks.
A 100 For Kiko!
The Kiko 100 was his first namesake shred sidekick with Ibanez. This one was done by the L.A. Custom Shop and features similar specs to the previous 200, but has an Ibanez S body shape and some different tonewoods—an alder body with a flame maple top, 5-piece walnut-and-maple neck, and a rosewood fretboard.
Here’s what seems to be another Ibanez Kiko100 model, but it has a wenge-maple neck similar to the one seen on the first green Kiko200 model.
Les Paul Means Less Frets
With captain Dave Mustaine onboard with Gibson, Kiko has been auditioning some Les Pauls for the Megadeth 2022 tour. Here’s a brand-new Gibson Les Paul Modern finished in a subdued sparkle they call graphite top. Contemporary updates on this classic includes a lighter, chambered mahogany body, an asymmetrical SlimTaper neck profile, a contoured and comfortable neck-and-heel joint, and while the company’s BurstBucker Pro and BurstBucker Pro + pickups have been in their stable for years, the Modern gives them added options with push-pull volume knobs engaging P-90 tones. There are only certain songs that Kiko can play the Les Pauls on (“Peace Sells” and “Trust”) because much of Megadeth’s material requires 24 frets (“Holy Wars... The Punishment Due,” etc.).
Kiko Goes Classical
For the opening of the instrumental tour de force “Conquer or Die,” Kiko uses this Yamaha NCX3 nylon-string acoustic-electric complete with the company’s Atmosfeel Electronics.
Loureiro Leads the Way
When touring shut down, Kiko looked to stay creative, so he took the plunge into the Neural DSP Quad Cortex. Impressed with its power, versatility, programmability, and condensed packaging, he incorporated it into his live rig. When Megadeth rehearsals restarted, Mustaine eyed the new unit and dropped his Axe-Fx for the downsized dynamo. For their worldwide 2022 run, both guitarists were using the Quad Cortex. Kiko preferred relying on Friedman BE patches, where Dave stayed familiar with Marshall settings. Both split their units between direct to FOH and onstage to Marshall Dave Mustaine Signature 1960B-DM 4x12s loaded with G12-V30 Marshall Celestion custom Dave Mustaine Vintage speakers.
Dave Mustaine’s Rack
Mustaine’s Quad Cortex’s run off a pair of Seymour Duncan PowerStage 700 amps. His guitars run through the Shure Axient AD4Q rackmount wireless unit and get controlled and organized by the Radial JX44 Guitar Signal Manager.
Kiko Loureiro’s Rack
Like Mustaine, Kiko puts his guitars through the Shure Axient AD4Q rackmount wireless unit and Radial JX44 Guitar Signal Manager, but he powers his Quad Cortexes with a couple of Matrix Amplification GT1000FX amps.